Single Year Hay Crop for Cattle

I have a customer that isn’t able to plant in some wet spots….  Hoping that it dries out in the next week - what would you recommend for a forage grass, one year, for cattle hay????  Let me know what the inventory looks like for your recommendation and the costs…

It's June 25th in northern Indiana. Assuming this farmer can procure seed and his field dries out, what are his best options for growing a hay crop yet this year? If he is able to plant his seed on July 1st, if he gets timely rain, and if he has adequate fertility, what can he expect? 

Option 1: Sudangrass

ProMax BMR Sudangrass being harvest for small square bales for the sheep market. 

ProMax BMR Sudangrass being harvest for small square bales for the sheep market. 

Sudangrass is great because of its versatility. Sudangrass can be made into balage, hay, or even grazed. It loves the heat and responds well to nitrogen. It it a high yielding product that brings excellent animal performance when fed. Under excellent conditions, you may expect to harvest this crop twice this year before a frost - this is the best case scenerio.

There are both BMR and non-BMR varieties available. The BMR (brown mid-rib) varieties pack a better nutritional punch because of their higher digestibility.  

Option 2: Teff Grass

Summer Delight Teff Grass

Summer Delight Teff Grass

Teff grass is a warm-season summer annual grass that produces high quality forage fast. It's a very small seed and must be seeded with great care; however, the payback is well worth the effort. Teff is very sensitive to frost, so you will want to plant this as early in the summer as possible to get the maximum number of harvests. 

Option 3: Sorghum Sudangrass

Pro-Max stem comparison.jpg

Sorghum sudangrass is available both in BMR (brown mid-rib)  as well as non-BMR varieties. The BMR products are more palatable and higher in nutrition. As you can see by the picture above, sorghum sudangrass tends to have a much thicker stalk than the sudangrass varieties (Monarch V, ProMax, and Piper). Therefore, they are not recommended for dry hay production. However, if balage is an option, or even grazing, this may be a product to plant in those wet spots. 

For more information on summer annual grasses, click here.  

If you have prevented plant acres and do not need feed, you may find this article useful.  

What About the Fall? 

If you are able to establish a summer annual in those wet fields and get a decent harvest from them, what should you do next?  

  • Plant oats. Mechanically harvest for a hay crop. Plant with turnips if grazing. You may also want to consider CISCO's Forager Mix, which is a mix of oats, rye, and turnips. The oats and turnips will grow fastest in the fall and the winter rye will be available in the spring. If you don't need the fall feed, you could just plant straight cereal rye. 

 

CISCO Forager Mix

CISCO Forager Mix

  • Plant triticale. Triticale will mature a little later in the spring than cereal rye. Both cereal rye and triticale will produce high quality feed.  Another option would be to plant CISCO's Milkmaker Mix, which is a mix of triticale and peas.
Milkmaker

Milkmaker

 

If you have questions about your specific situation, you can contact us here.